Regarding the letter “‘Aghast' then & now” by Stephen Siskind of Cecil: The “three-fifths clause” of our Constitution (Article 1, Section 2) that he refers to is often assumed to be an insult against slaves by our Founding Fathers. This clause concerns representation and taxes apportioned among the states; it does not condone slavery.
If slaves had been counted as full persons, Southern states would have had a disproportionate number of representatives in Congress and an incentive to import even more slaves to further increase those states' influence. This clause raised the standing of slaves from mere property to “three fifths of all other Persons.” The key word here is “Persons.”
There is no room here to discuss Siskind's other misinformed attacks against James Madison and our Bill of Rights, but for him and others interested in the original intent of the authors of our Constitution, one excellent source is “The Heritage Guide to The Constitution” by Edwin Meese, Matthew Spalding and David F. Forte.
Roy J. Whipple
New Sewickley Township
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